New York cosmos
Two spaced-out disco dudes get three nights to turn us on.
If you know the names of Lee Douglas or Lovefingers, chances are you spend your off-hours caressing vinyl or hunting down obscure tracks on blogs at the far-out end of the disco galaxy. Both New Yorkers come to Chicago this week to play a threesome of Lono Brazil’s Disco Unusual Social Club, three nights of strange and wonderfully obscure disco and edits at three different venues—a rare treat.
The growing interest in cosmic disco is largely Internet-aided. Naturally, Douglas (Doug Lee) and Lovefingers (Andrew Hogge) have been regularly featured on Beatsinspace, the influential podcast/radio show from Tim Sweeney at WNYU that features an international cadre of out-there disco purveyors in DJ sets. Lovefingers has emerged as one of the cosmic-disco underground’s key bloggers for his discoveries at lovefingers.org. But Douglas has earned his stripes more traditionally, with a series of proper records.
Douglas came up through punk and indie music, playing in L.A. bands, usually keyboards. He collected soul records until the sample-market hit. “The disco thing, for me, was financial back then. A lot of those soul, jazz and funk records were getting expensive,” he says. When he wasn’t raving, Douglas turned on to DJ Harvey and Moton Records, as well as the disco-influenced house of Ashley Beedle. Then dubby disco samplists Idjut Boys hit and he was hooked. He didn’t fall for French house: “I dabbled in that stuff, but I was more into finding these weird records that these guys were sampling.” Eventually, he ended up in New York, where he could share his disco-influenced productions with a savvy dance scene.
With nu-disco anthems like “New York Story” on the DFA-absorbed Rong label, Douglas would seem to be at the epicenter of the New York disco quake. Chicago has withheld its embrace of cosmic disco—our DJs tend to hold tight to reliable house or dive into younger, trendier sounds. But as it turns out, New York is no disco Shangri-la either. The scene, Douglas says, is incestuous and far from lucrative. “It’s another one of those things where all the people that participate in it are the only people who patronize it.” Overseas, at least he can be booked as an exotic New York DJ. He and Lovefingers may have played Istanbul, but back in the Big Apple they scaled back their no-name party to a monthly.
This brand of trippy disco resonates more with heads and adult clubbers—but its midtempo rhythms and sci-fi sounds are as conducive to herbal pre-partying as a solid night of boogeying at your corner joint. Douglas says the charms of disco run deep. “There is more emotional content to disco than most of what the younger generation of kids are getting into,” he says. “Rock & roll dance music is cool, but I’m trying to bring an emotional element back to a dance situation. A disco feeling is just a different vibe.”
Lee Douglas and Lovefingers spin three nights of Disco Unusual Social Club: Dancin in the Exosphere.